Safety And Environmental Concerns

To minimize the hazards and potential damage inherent in reactive propellant materials, it is necessary to be very conscientious about the likely risks and hazards (see Ref. 7-4). This concerns toxicity, explosiveness, fire or spill danger, and others mentioned in Section 7.1. Before an operator, assembler, maintenance mechanic, supervisor; or engineer is allowed to transfer or use a particular propellant, he or she should receive safety training in the particular propellant, its characteristics, its safe handling or transfer, potential damage to equipment or the environment, and the countermeasures for limiting the consequences in case of an accident. They must also understand the potential hazards to the health of personnel, first aid, remedies in case of contact exposure of the skin, ingestion, or inhaling, and the use of safety equipment. Examples of safety equipment are protective clothing, detectors for toxic vapors, remote controls, warning signals, or emergency water deluge. The personnel working with or being close to highly toxic materials usually have to undergo frequent health monitoring. Also rocket engines need to be designed for safety to minimize the occurrence of a leak, an accidental spill, an unexpected fire, or other potentially unsafe conditions. Most organizations have one or more safety specialists who review the safety of the test plans, manufacturing operations, design, procedures, or safety equipment. With the proper training, equipment, precautions, and design safety features, all propel-lants can be handled safely.

If a safety violation occurs or if an operation, design, procedure, or practice is found to be (or appears to be) unsafe, then a thorough investigation of the particular item or issue should be undertaken, the cause of the lack of safety should be investigated and identified, and an appropriate remedial action should be selected and initiated as soon as possible.

The discharge of toxic exhaust gases to the environment and their dispersion by the wind can cause exposure of operating personnel as well as the people in nearby areas. This is discussed in Section 20.2. The dumping or spilling of toxic liquids can contaminate subterranean aquifers and surface waters, and their vapors can pollute the air. Today the type and amount of gaseous and liquid discharges are regulated and monitored by government authorities. These discharges must be controlled or penalties will be assessed against violators. Obtaining a permit to discharge can be a lengthy and involved procedure.

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